Akala’s Birmingham library success

By on 22/07/2010 in Culture

Music fans from all over Birmingham filled the city’s Library Theatre a to enjoy a special gig by award-winning hip-hop star Akala on Wednesday 21 July. 

The audience at the free show in Birmingham, consisted of young people from local music societies, youth groups and schools.  Akala's 30 minute performance with  renowned drummer Toby Couling 'The Beatmaster' was followed by a Question and Answer session where he discussed his love for reading, and particularly his new album 'Double Think' which was inspired by George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We. 

Akala's performance was part of a nationwide tour of libraries, and is the result of a partnership with the national charity The Reading Agency and his own Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company.  The tour is part of a major drive to increase young people's interest in reading and transform the way they think about libraries.  The tour will climax with a show at the British Library in London.

Akala, winner of the 2006 Best Hip-Hop Artist MOBO Award, said: “I'm really excited about this library tour and hope that it will open young people's eyes and help them to see libraries as thriving hubs of creativity, rather than stuffy, solitary places. My passion for reading pervades my own creative work and new album, so I also hope that these performances will challenge preconceptions and encourage young people to develop a passion for reading and words.”

Young people in the audience responded positively.  One described the show as 'An inspiration!  Should happen more often and Akala’s message would be huge!”, another stated that “This is my first time at an event like this and I thought it was absolutely fantastic, more please!”

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport & Culture said: “Birmingham's libraries aim to promote reading to people of all ages.  I am delighted that our Central Library was able to be part of this innovate tour and that it has been proved to be so successful with young people throughout the city”.

Ruth Harrison, project manager at The Reading Agency, said: 'At The Reading Agency, we want to transform the way libraries engage with young people and broaden the definition of reading. What better way to do this than bringing an acclaimed hip-hop artist such as Akala to libraries around the country, to perform and talk about how reading has inspired his own work.

'It is fantastic that so many 21st century libraries across the UK now offer a new, lively service and we strongly believe that old fashioned attitudes to reading and libraries must change and that teens need to be engaged on their own terms, if they are to develop a lifelong passion for reading.'

For further information on Birmingham Libraries please visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/libraries

-ends-

Media Contacts – Birmingham City Council:
Jason Lewis: 0121 303 4266,
jason_lewis@birmingham.gov.uk
Reading Agency/Akala:
Debbie Hyde, Oasis Media:
debbie.hyde@oasismedia.co.uk or 07956 320 486

Notes to editors

  • The Reading Agency is an independent charity whose mission is to inspire more people to read more. It specialises in spreading reading by working with public libraries, and also teams up with prisons, publishers, unions, businesses, broadcasters, and others. It is supported by the Arts Council and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (www.readingagency.org.uk)
  • Akala’s new album DoubleThink is out now. For more information about Akala and his Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, go to http://www.akalamusic.com or http://www.hiphopshakespeare.com/site/

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